Qualifying - selected driver quotes 13 May 2006
A thrilling qualifying hour finally gave the Spanish fans what they wanted - Fernando Alonso on pole position. The world champion and his 21 rivals explain how things went...
Fernando Alonso, Renault (1st, 1m 14.648s):
I don't think even 66 laps tomorrow will be enough for me to enjoy this race, because it is pure pleasure to be driving here in Barcelona this weekend in front of my people. It is fantastic to be on pole because the times have been very close all the way through practice, probably because we test a lot at this circuit, and we expected the qualifying session to be tough. In fact, we were more nervous about Q2 than Q3 before the session started. But like in the Nurburgring, we were not so strong in the second part, and then found something extra in the third session, so I am really happy to take my second consecutive pole. Looking ahead for tomorrow, after the Renaults it is clear that Ferrari and especially Michael are very strong. So far, my worst result in five races has been second position, and if we can keep this consistency then it will be good for the championship. But we will go into the race thinking the victory is possible.
Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault (2nd, 1m 14.709s):
It is nice to be P2 after a couple of difficult qualifying sessions for me at the last races. The Renault performance has been very good here all winter in testing, and we expected to be competitive at this circuit. To take the front row is a great result, and we are optimistic that we have a good package not just in qualifying, but for the race. I said at the last races that I could have fought for the podium if my qualifying position had been stronger, and I think I proved that today. There will be a tough battle for us with Ferrari tomorrow afternoon, and between the tyre manufacturers as well. I am looking forward to a great race.
Michael Schumacher, Ferrari (3rd, 1m 14.970s):
I am quite happy with third place on the grid, as we knew we might have to lose a bit in qualifying, because we based our decision about tyres more on how they would perform in the race. So, the second row is not a big problem as we know we can expect a strong race pace. Unlike at the Nurburgring, this time, I start from the clean side of the grid. As for race strategy, there are two possibilities and now we will have to make sure we pick the best one.
Felipe Massa, Ferrari (4th, 1m 15.442s):
It was a good qualifying. A start from the front two rows is vital and we managed to reach this target. On my final run in Q3, I came up against a bit of traffic in the final sector, but Im happy with the way things went. I am very confident about the race in that we know we can count on getting very consistent performance from the Bridgestone tyres.
Rubens Barrichello, Honda (5th, 1m 15.885s):
"Obviously I'm very happy with my qualifying position. I think I extracted the maximum out of the car today. It is quite difficult to beat the other two teams at the moment so we just have to concentrate on what we have now and make the best of every opportunity during the race. I'm quite happy with what we have achieved today and I'm looking forward to tomorrow."
Ralf Schumacher, Toyota (6th, 1m 15,885s):
"We had a good day today but it was a tough afternoon's work out there. We didn't use any new tyres this morning and we had to go to the limit to make it through into Session 3. The car was fine during all three sessions and we had no problems. The track was slightly slippery but nothing exceptional. My final lap was a clean lap but a driver is never completely satisfied, especially when a thousandth of a second is all you need to gain a place. Still, we are confident in our strategy and hopeful for the race, where we will push for a good result."
Jarno Trulli, Toyota (7th, 1m 15.976s):
"We're quite satisfied with today's performance. I had problems with understeer and the car behaviour changed a lot during the sessions. That meant I could not quite pull out the lap I would have liked at the end but we are still near the front. Because everyone knows this track so well, everyone runs at the absolute limit during this race weekend. We looked good in the tests here and we're near the front again today so things are looking positive. Now we will have to see how we can perform in the race. We have worked hard to eliminate the problems with tyre graining that we had yesterday. So we hope that helps us tomorrow and we can put in a good race performance."
Jenson Button, Honda (8th, 1m 16.008s):
"I'm extremely disappointed to qualify in 8th position. The car balance was fine until I asked for a little more front wing. Normally you would expect to get a better front end on the car but I had massive understeer, far more than we would have expected. We'll have to look at the data to see what the problem is and hopefully address it in time for tomorrow."
Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren (9th, 1m 16.015s):
"We are not where we want to be. I was blocked on my first flying lap in the last qualifying session and then the next run was not a great one. We seem to be lacking qualifying pace, but will see what we can do in the race tomorrow to improve our positions as our race pace is better than our qualifying speed."
Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber (10th, 1m 17.144s):
I am happy to be in the top ten as the lap times are quite close. I think it would have been difficult to beat the other cars in front of us, and even though I lost some time with Ralf in front, honestly I don't think it would have changed anything regarding my position. The set up was fine on one lap, and I hope we can see the same tomorrow over a race distance. The balance of the car changed, and it was quite different for all three outings.
Mark Webber, Williams (11th, 1m 15.502s):
We got a bit of idea in testing that maybe it was going to be a little bit difficult for us here, but you only really confirm this on the day, and we found out today that we are just a sniff away from getting into the top ten. This is the first time this year that I didnt make it into the last ten by a small margin, but unfortunately we are not quick enough over one lap.
Juan Pablo Montoya, McLaren (12th, 1m 15.801s):
"I'm really disappointed. There was a problem when I came in to get my car refuelled and my tyres lost a lot of heat, and we should have changed to a new set. However these things happen and whilst they are frustrating we must now focus on the race tomorrow and see what we can do."
Nico Rosberg, Williams (13th, 1m 15.804s):
We still seem to be missing something to get qualifying right and making it into the top ten and this is something we need to work on. Our race pace so far this season has been quite alright though and I think tomorrow we should look quite good, especially with respect to our tyres. Both Mark and I are in good shape to collect some points in the race and we proved at the Nurburgring that we are able to make up positions into the points, even from the back of the field.
Jacques Villeneuve, BMW Sauber (14th, 1m 15.847s):
The first run went very easily and the balance was very good, but then the wind picked up and the car's balance changed. We still concentrated for the set-up on what we need for the race with high fuel and all that. We were not at the optimum for qualifying, but I was still expecting better than that.
Christian Klien, Red Bull (15th, 1m 15.928s):
I got through the first qualifying part okay. The second part looked good at the beginning, but when I went out on new tyres I lost some time in the first sector. The car was understeering quite a lot and (Jacques) Villeneuve held me up on my last flying lap, but with this new qualifying system its so easy to get held up in traffic. My qualifying position is not great, but its a long race tomorrow and well play a little bit with our strategy, so hopefully well get some points.
Vitantonio Liuzzi, Toro Rosso (16th, 1m 16.661s):
We have to realize this is our position and to do a better time would mean taking a short cut on the track. We suffer a bit from a lack of straight line speed but overall, we did a good qualifying and at least I reached the second part of the session. Because we lacked speed on the straight I had to go to the limit, pushing more on the corners. The car handled really well and I think, if we get through the first lap without an accident, we can have a strong race, especially as Michelin has done a good job and given us a consistent tyre, even though this is one of the toughest circuits for tyres.
Scott Speed, Toro Rosso (17th, 1m 17.361s):
Of course Id prefer to make it into the next part of the session, but this is pretty much where I expected to qualify anyway. Im not disappointed because we took the definite decision to have the car set up more to have a good race pace for tomorrow rather than for todays qualifying. I think this will pay off and we should have a strong race pace and I have confidence in our tyre choice.
Tiago Monteiro, Midland (18th, 1m 17.702s):
"We had a much better day than yesterday. I guess it just means we have to work on our Fridays, really, because there's always either a problem on the technical side, or the set up, or my driving, or something... My engineers and I understand each other really well so we always end up sorting it out, but it's frustrating because it costs us so much preparation time. We worked hard last night to make the necessary changes and the car was much, much better today, very balanced and nice to drive, so all that effort paid off. In qualifying, I made a small mistake on my first run that cost me four or five tenths, but that's qualifying - you're just pushing as hard as you can. Thankfully, my second run was just a clean, perfect lap. I was pushing amazingly hard and the car responded perfectly, so I'd really like to thank my mechanics for that. I was only 1.9s away from the top time in that heat, so the gap is still shrinking and I'm happy about that, especially on a track where we tend to struggle."
Christijan Albers, Midland (19th, 1m 18.024s):
"Not the greatest day for us, to be honest. We struggled a lot and we have to look through the data to see what's going on. From a performance point of view, we're doing really well in the middle sector, which is the toughest one because of all the corners, so that's encouraging. But we're losing a lot of time in the first and second sectors, so that's where we have a lot of work to do. We have to find out why we're slower than Tiago and come up with a solution for that. On my first qualifying run, I nearly had a massive shunt because I came around a blind, uphill corner almost flat out in fifth gear, and all of a sudden I had Sato moving really slowly in front of me. I can't understand what he was doing, because he was on his 'in' lap and should have been more aware of what was going on. My emotions got the better of me at that moment, and maybe I reacted in a way that wasn't so nice, but that still doesn't excuse his actions. Everyone knows this is not a place where you lift (off the throttle)."
Takuma Sato, Super Aguri (20th, 1m 18.920s):
We had a very smooth morning and made good progress during the practice session. Qualifying was also encouraging. The conditions were relatively difficult as I had low grip and encountered traffic before the Red Flag stopped the session. However during the second run I had a clear track and was able to set a similar lap time to the one I set in practice, so I am happy. The gap between our times and the Midlands is getting smaller, so things are starting to get exciting for the team.
Franck Montagny, Super Aguri (21st, 1m 20.763s):
My day was better day than yesterday for sure. We were able to improve the cars handling into the quick corners, so now we have a stable car and I am happy about that. We found quite a good set up on used tyres and the car was quite easy to drive with no problems with degradation, but with new tyres we are struggling a bit around the slow corners. The track has changed so much and we still need more data for the car, so it makes things a little difficult. We are getting closer and improving a little all the time and I know that in time the pace will come.
David Coulthard, Red Bull (22nd, no time):
There was failure on the car. Turn three is not a difficult corner, even when youre flat out, and I was on an out lap and not pushing hard at all. Something failed at the rear of the car and it just went away from me. Im really pissed off as I think we were in really good shape this morning, but we just need to take it on the chin and see what we can do in the race.